Monday, 10 August 2015

Terminator: TSCC Season 2 Episode 7 ‘Brothers of Nablus’ Review


The Connors have been robbed. They immediately go looking for their stolen belongings, which includes their fake IDs and diamond stash. Meanwhile Cromartie steps up his search for John Connor and Ellison is arrested for murder!

So this episode opens with one of the most bizarre sequences I’ve ever seen in anything. James Ellison is eating breakfast when a Terminator smashes through his front door. The machine is an identical match for Ellison and is about to kill him when it is destroyed by Cromartie. Ellison questions why Cromartie saved him and Cromartie explains that he has faith in Ellison, faith that Ellison will lead him to the Connors.


The above sequence isn’t a dream sequence, it actually happened. It is a pretty big issue that ‘Terminator:TSCC’ has established itself as a show that can open with crazy dream sequences. To cold open a show with such a bizarre and unexplained sequence is a really odd concept for a show that usually so clearly separates grounded ideas and dream ideas.  To compound matters, Ellison is very confused when he is arrested for murder. It takes him being questioned at the police station to suddenly remember that his breakfast was interrupted by his evil twin.


You would hope that a former FBI agent hunting a machine that took a man’s face to go rampaging might be concerned if a machine turned up with his face, might assume the worse perhaps? However we are led to believe that Ellison just went back to breakfast once Cromartie left and continued his day until he was interrupted by the police arresting him at home.


I really find is pretty unlikely that the character previously established wouldn't look into his evil twin or try and find an alibi for himself. I would also suspect that he might try and follow Cromartie, considering he is being paid to do so. As it is, he is arrested by the police and positively ID’ed by a witness for the murder. It takes Catherine Weaver to spare him jail. She poses as the detective investigating the case and questions the witness, forcing him to reveal the ‘truth’ about the energy ball he saw when ‘Ellison’ arrived. This new testimony from the witness is thrown out due to insanity and Ellison is free to go.


I like the sequence where Weaver tricks the witness into appearing crazy. I like the idea of a witness explaining the appearance of a Terminator to the police. We get so many confused cutaways of witnesses when these time distortions appear but never get to hear them failing to explain themselves to the police, as least not until now.


Now when Cromartie isn’t patrolling to save James Ellison he is patrolling for John Connor. This week his fake cop act gets him a fake partner, that of Jody from ‘Allison from Palmdale’. Jody is still a bit angry about Cameron trying to kill her so assists Cromartie in finding Cameron and John, revealing their alias surname in the process.


I would definitely watch a show where a street kid patrolled targets with a Terminator. Jody is written to be like John Connor was in ‘T2’, constantly berating the Terminator for acting weird.  These scenes are pretty funny so it is a shame that they spend so little time together. Cromartie quickly gets sick of her company and throws her out of his moving car. Hopefully Jody will surface again as she has the potential to be an amusing foil for the Connors, particularly John due to their similarities.

As for the Connors, Sarah spends the majority of the episode tracking down the stolen items with Cameron, while John dodges Cromartie who has managed to track them down to their house.

Sarah and Cameron manage to track the goods via a diamond fence who dealt with the thieves, this fence explains that he brought the stolen diamonds from a failed filmmaker and his friends trying to raise money for a zombie film.


Eventually the thieves use the stolen credit card at a bowling alley, leading Sarah and Cameron directly to them and the stolen objects are recovered. Sarah notices however that one of the thieves is missing, due to an extra pair of shoes, and goes to look for him in the bathroom. Meanwhile Cameron takes it on herself to kill the thieves she has been asked to "keep an eye on". “They knew where we lived” she calmly explains. Sarah find the last guy in the bathroom and spares him. Unfortunately for the Connors it is revealed that Cromartie tracked the stolen card also and the cliffhanger is him questioning the survivor for the location of the Connor house.


I like the recurring theme that human emotion is a dangerous thing in the Terminator universe. Sarah spares a man who will later betray them. John refuses to mention Cromartie to his mother, knowing that she will force them to move house again. If everyone merely did what Cameron suggested they would be much safer.

Speaking of Cameron she gets a really funny moment where she has being covering for John and when questioned by Sarah simply responds “No one likes a nag”. Sarah is clearly both amused and irritated but does her best to hide this. I like the small occasional suggestions that Derek and Sarah are growing to be fond of Cameron, little character moments like this do a lot to build the subtle changes that need to occur in attitude to make scripted people seem human.


Derek and Jessie continue to spend time together and she continues to manipulate him. I hope that this storyline is developed a bit more soon. I appreciate that she is meant to influence Derek over time but she comes across as far too suspicious to be easily trusted by someone as paranoid as Derek. The longer he spends hanging out with her the less believable her hold on him becomes.


‘Brothers of Nablus’ is reasonably strong on ideas but a little weak on common sense. Ellison being arrested for murder is a really good idea but badly handled. The opening scene should have been the fake Ellison appearing and committing the murder, this would have given the scene where he attacks the real Ellison some much needed context. Having Ellison chose to ignore being attacked and saved by Terminators in his own house is also rather stupid for a character who is usually so sharp.

Similarly the pursuit of the thieves seems pretty badly handled by the usually intelligent Sarah. She rings up the credit card company and asks them to put a trace on her card. They then kill the guys at the location where the card company sent them and just leave the bodies there. I would hope that Sarah might have assumed that the card company might mention that they had a stolen card transaction moment before a multiple homicide, particularly when they have just directed the real owner of the card to the location. Maybe Sarah was hoping that professional embarrassment will lead the card company to not tell the police that they sent them there to kill them?


The ideas in this episode are pretty strong but the execution is really rather sloppy. Even so this episode is far from being bad. We do have some nice sequences, such as Weaver interrogating the witness and a confrontation between Sarah and john over his freedom and as I said the central ideas are strong. This is as close as ‘Terminator:TSCC’ has come to having a bad episode and ‘Brothers of Nablus’ still has a lot to like.

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